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IL Green Party Slams Repeal of Nuclear Moratorium & Tire Burning Bill; Calls for Stronger Renewable Energy Portfolio

George Ochsenfeld

George Ochsenfeld

Green Party leaders and candidates have expressed outrage at a recent State Senate vote to repeal the Illinois moratorium against new nuclear production.  Senate Bill 3388 passed the Senate 40-1 on March 15, in an unexpected move after similar bills in previous years failed to move beyond the floor of either chamber.  SB3388 would delete the provision in state law prohibiting the construction of new nuclear facilities until the nuclear waste storage issue is resolved.

The problems with nuclear expansion have been thoroughly chronicled. One such study is “The Nuclear Illusion“, written by Amory Lovins and Imran Sheikh for Rocky Mountain Institute.

George Ochsenfeld, Green Party candidate for 79th State Representative (Peotone, Kankakee areas) said:

Nuclear power is bad for the economy, bad for the environment, and bad for the people of Illinois. The idea that nuclear is a solution for any of our current problems is pure fantasy.  It is completely irresponsible for legislators to champion it.

Citing the work of the Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Greens pointed to numerous problems associated with the expansion of nuclear facilities in Illinois.  These include:

  • the increasing likelihood that Illinois will become a “temporary” regional high-level dump state,
  • involving the import of tons of radioactive waste into the state; and
  • the enabling of the GE Corporation to construct environmental reactors at its Morris facility to test the controversial reactor fuel reprocessing method which has been discredited as expensive, polluting, and leading to nuclear weapons proliferation.

The Green Party also pointed out that the expansion of nuclear production would undermine the 2007 Renewable Energy Portfolio standard law requiring that Illinois electric utilities produce 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.  Since nuclear is non-renewable and, contrary to popular belief, is not a carbon-free source due to carbon release in uranium processing, the expansion of nuclear power use in Illinois could signal a serious setback to renewable energy development in Illinois.

“The state should be focusing on enforcing and strengthening the existing renewable portfolio standard,” said Rich Whitney, Green candidate for Governor.  “Three years into the program, we’re already behind our goals.  We need to look at policies and strategies to actually meet and exceed these goals, including Feed-In Tariffs that have been successful in Germany and elsewhere.”

Rather than strengthening existing standards, though, a bill which recently made it out of committee would expand the definition of “renewable energy” to include the burning of discarded tires. Amendment 1 to House Bill 1470 was approved by the House Renewable Energy Committee on March 16 by a 6-3 vote, with 5 of 6 Democrats voting Yes.  The amendment was introduced by Rep. David Miller (D-29), who is now the Democratic nominee for State Comptroller.

“Apparently the Democrats think burning tires is not only a good thing, but should even be classified as ‘renewable’,” said Jeremy Karpen, Green candidate for 39th State Representative (Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.)  “This is the most brazen misuse of legislative authority I’ve seen anyone in the General Assembly try to pull. This clear attempt to placate the corporate sector ignores the health and environmental consequences of burning tires and represents a step backward in energy technology.  It’s as though they think that you can keep burning the same tires over and over again.”

Reaffirming comments from last year, Greens also pointed to repealing the nuclear moratorium as evidence of the pernicious influence of Pay to Play in Illinois politics.  The Illinois State Board of Elections Campaign Disclosure site shows over 30 variations of the name Exelon having contributed over $2,500,000 to candidates in Illinois since 2001.  Many of these legislators are now listed as sponsors of the moratorium repeal legislation.

“The campaign finance reform the legislature passed last year was a joke, and everybody knows it,” said Vince LaMie, Green candidate for 105th State Rep (Champaign, McLean, Iroquois, Ford, and Livingston Counties.)  It’s time for public financing in Illinois, and the loophole allowing legislative leaders to buy candidates needs to be eliminated immediately.”

For more information, see:

Rich Whitney for Governor:  http://www.whitneyforgov.org
George Ochsenfeld for 79th State Representative:  http://www.georgeochsenfeld.com
Jeremy Karpen for 39th State Representative:  http://www.jeremykarpen.org
Vince LaMie for 105th State Representative:  http://www.vincelamie.com

Nuclear Energy Information Service:  http://www.neis.org
“The Nuclear Illusion”:  http://www.rmi.org/rmi/Library/E08-01_NuclearIllusion

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